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Joint effort made to fund erosion fight

The Town of Newstead and Village of Akron are reapplying for a federal grant to help alleviate the erosion of the Murder Creek embankment below the Main Street retail district in the village. The estimated cost of the project has risen another $80,000 because of inflation. The town and village's first joint application for an $800,000 predisaster mitigation grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency was denied several months ago, and the appeal of that rejection also has been denied.

The new application is due Nov. 7 to the state, which must approve it before forwarding it to FEMA in mid-December.

A roughly 800-foot-wide swath of the embankment between Main and Brooklyn streets is affected with a slope that measures between 40 and 80 feet high from the creek bed. Erosion of the heavily wooded area worsened with the loss of trees and other vegetation in the October 2006 snowstorm.

About 20 structures -- many commercial sites dating to between the 1850s and 1890s -- are affected, including private homes on Brooklyn Street bordering the creek.

The local share of the project is about $220,000, which can be in the form of in-kind services. In addition, Apex Consulting & Engineering has been hired to do preliminary engineering design. The $2,500 cost will be shared equally by Newstead and Akron. Carl Klingenschmitt, chairman of the Newstead Conservation Advisory Council and one of many town and village officials who worked on the grant application, updated the Town Board earlier this month. Also on hand was Mark Gaston of the Erie County Soil and Water Conservation District, an adviser on the project, and an Apex representative.

A possible method of stabilizing the embankment would be to pin limestone blocks to the creek bedrock in a staggered arrangement that would rise up the embankment's slope. Then riprap (loose rock) would be stacked in heavy wire mesh to create what is known as a "gabion" retaining wall.

Klingenschmitt said surveyors have been out on some of the affected properties "and some sections are showing additional wear." Easements are necessary from property owners to allow for the remedial work, which officials hope could start in March.

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